angry gender-benders at large

By Diogenes ( articles ) | May 28, 2005

Bishop Thomas Gumbleton is currently four months past his sell-by date. His homily for Trinity Sunday should give ample reason for the folks at the Congregation for Bishops to move his retirement papers to the top of the stack.

When you think about it, when the [Trinitarian] formulation was agreed upon, during the Council of Nicea in 325, during the time of the Roman Empire, this might not have been the best time for the church to come to this understanding of three persons -- father, son and Holy Spirit -- because under Roman law, "father" was not a term, for the most part, that made people respond with love. Under Roman law, a father had total control over the life of his wife and the life of his children. It was a period of what we call patriarchy. Because of that, it seems to me, we within the church lost the sense of God as mother and with this idea of God as father, we also took up the cultural accumulation that had built up during the Roman Empire where a father was seen as a dictator within the family; a father could punish, even kill, his spouse or child and would not be subject to any law.

Putting aside Gumbleton's extreme simplification of ecclesiastical history -- which he appears to have learned from his Rosemary Ruether Coloring Book -- one is moved to ask what gift he hoped to give his congregation by delivering this sermon. What spiritual good do they come away with? A successor of the apostles insinuates that the teaching Church [they can't hear his lower-case 'c' -- or can they?] is a bumbling human enterprise even in her most careful and solemn doctrinal judgments. His hearers can only conclude that the Church is unreliable as a teacher and subject to correction by the most facile contemporary revisionism.

Even if, contrary to fact, Gumbleton were right that "father" was a term of menace in the 4th century, why infect the faithful today with a disease they didn't have in order to dose them with an antidote they didn't need?

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